Pop Culture
Nov 08, 2023, 06:35AM

The Errors Tour

Taylor Swift enslaves. Amy Schumer does Ayn Rand. An election nears. 

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Just as some of us were starting to look forward to the prospect of Taylor Swift playing the mutant Dazzler in next year’s Deadpool 3 (not really the first time Dazzler, who turns sound into light, has appeared in a Marvel movie, but space-time is a complex mess lately), she has a far more negative impact on the universe, albeit one she hasn’t officially endorsed or encouraged: The aptly-named Taylor Swift fan group Swifties Against Freedom Advances hopes to crush liberty in Argentina this month. Maybe U.S. cultural imperialism in Latin America really is a problem.

Young Argentine leftists are alarmed by the popularity in their age bracket of presidential candidate Javier Milei, who is a libertarian (an anarcho-capitalist, the full-fledged and consistent kind of libertarian, keen to end government). The leftists are using Swift posters and online forums to rally young voters against Milei and in favor of the one remaining alternative candidate, an authoritarian Peronist, in Argentina’s November 19 runoff election.

It’s sad, though perhaps unsurprising, that Argentine Swifties and fans of the South Korean boy band BTS think the hip thing to do in an election is push for the big-government, establishment candidate against an actual rock musician like Milei, who wants to free them all from decades of corrupt, economy-crushing Argentine statism. Let’s hope Swift does nothing to encourage the forces of big government when she starts the non-U.S. leg of her Eras tour in Argentina this Thursday.

(And I’m not so sure Taylor is averse to being used as a centrist pawn in international politics, given how happy the CIA must’ve been about all those slyly anti-communist “1989” t-shirts distributed by her fans in China several years ago, ostensibly just to spread the title of one of her albums but surely reminding locals of Tiananmen Square, which is musical activism I can more comfortably support.)

Let’s hope that if Milei turns Argentina into an anarcho-capitalist paradise and some of his fellow Argentines want to migrate north to the U.S. to do more business with us using their newfound wealth, those migrants will be welcomed by the U.S.’s own self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalists—despite some of our “anarcho-capitalists” lately misunderstanding their own (seemingly clear) philosophy and becoming enthusiasts of government-imposed migration controls.

If Milei, despite being smeared (in Guardian headlines and the like) as a mere right-wing populist in a Trump vein, succeeds in turning this whole hemisphere pro-market and anti-government, he might also succeed in fusing libertarianism and populism in a way that Rand Paul sometimes tries to and that Trump never really wanted to. Milei might then become the man to arrest the left’s long march through civilization’s institutions, a march that leads directly toward centralization and eventually to totalitarianism.

While the centralization vortex continues sucking, though, one must find some consolation in any hint that someone still has an independent mind and is willing to endure some criticism from peers. You may recall me coming away from Amy Schumer’s interview of me with the impression she’s got an apolitical, unpretentious, and commonsensical streak even if we disagree on some things.

Now, the un-Barbie comedian is getting criticized by her old pals on the left for denouncing Hamas, and after a decade of people being “canceled” for the slightest perceived transgression against marginalized or indigenous peoples, she’s not backing down. Good for her. Regardless of what one thinks of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least admit this: It’s absurd to worry that criticizing terrorists constitutes “punching down” if you’re at the same time chanting that Israel should become “free” (of Jews, they mean, as Schumer has noted) from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

My skepticism about climate regulations may have sounded too libertarian to Schumer, but now she sounds a little like this Ayn Rand Institute video about the importance of looking skeptically at some (not all) pro-Palestinian claims, particularly those tiny-shrinking-territory maps you may have seen that make it look as if the Palestinians are being inexorably erased. The history’s more complicated, and those maps toggle deceptively between showing areas of political authority and mere areas of population density, creating the false impression Israel functions like the Star Wars trash compactor squeezing hapless Arab flotsam.

A fully-detailed map would capture not only the convoluted history of wars, relocations, governmental land swaps, and perfectly peaceful property sales between Arab, Jewish, and other sorts of Israelis but the imperfect law codes under which people try to function as individuals, of whatever ancestry, in control of their own bodies and property and possessed of diverse preferences that cannot be lumped into monolithic tribes or political units, as if the Middle East were a clash of giant collective organisms.

You really want to escape clashes between governments like those in the Middle East? Root for several dozen Mileis over in that hemisphere too, so people can deal with each other as individuals—under laws protecting individual rights—and not as mere tribal markers.

Todd Seavey is the author of Libertarianism for Beginners and is on X at @ToddSeavey


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